tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC April 17, 2013 9:00am-10:00am PDT
alert right now with the news this hour that a letter addressed to president obama contained a suspicious substance. the letter was intercepted as a screening facility and initial tests show it could contain the deadly poison ricin. the fbi says it's very lard to a letter sent yesterday to senator roger wicker of mississippi. which also tested positive for ricin. a third suspicious package may have arrived at the office of alabama senator richard shelby. investigators do not currently believe there is a connection to the bombing in boston. meanwhile, law enforcement officials in massachusetts are combing through more than 2,000 tips, looking through photos like this one, shall shows a bag sitting by a mailbox before the explosion. it is unclear at this point whether or not the bag has any relevance, but appears to be near the center of the explosion. president obama will be in boston tomorrow to attend a memorial service for the victims. for the loved once of those killed and maimed in the explosion, there is only
confusion and many unanswered questions. joining me today here in new york city, nbc news capitol hill correspondent luke russert, and misterrorism expert michael leiter, and bob herbert, a distinguished senior fellow at dimos. let's go to kristin welker for more. >> reporter: alex, good afternoon. here's what we know at this hour. this letter was received yesterday at an off-site mail facility. i want to emphasize that. it did not get close to the white house. it's typical for letters sent to this facility to undergo a screening. during that process, it was discovered that a letter addressed to president obama did contain a suspicious substance action as you mentioned, similar to the letter that was sent to senator wicker. so right now secret service is working in concert with the fbi, with the capitol police, to determine exactly who sent this
letter why and what the motive is. we are expecting press secretary jay carney to deliver his daily briefing. i want to make sure this is very clear. this was a scheduled briefing for 11:45, so we expect him to come out at any minute. he will undoubtedly get a number of questions about this situation, about this suspicious her that was sent to president obama. of course, the white house secret service have really been on heightened alert ever since the bombings on monday. at this point in time, investigators do not believe there's a connection between this letter that was sent to president obama and the bombings in boston. that's what we know at this hour. i can tell you the pennsylvania avenue has been closed off to foot traffic ever since monday, really out of an abundance of caution. d.c. has been on heightened alert ever since the bombings in boston. of course, a very somber time. the president continues to receive briefings throughout the evening and throughout the day from fbi director, lisa monaco,
his department of homeland security adviser, he continues to get updated on the situation. at you pointed out action alex, the president will be traveling to boston tomorrow, to help the community of boston heal. at this hour we are awaiting the daily briefing by press secretary jay carney. >> kristin, maybe this is something we have to way for jay carney to answer, but in terms of the other letters that were sent to senators roger wicker and richard shelby, we think this is from the same sender, is that correct? the letter that went to the president? >> reporter: at this point in time, that seems to be the indication from investigators, but i want to be clear that this is still very early on in this investigation. remember, these letters just came to light yesterday, so they were really just sorting through all of this information right now. you are right, that is one of the questions that karney will get today at the briefing, what
type of a link is there between these letters that have been sent. the fbi really taking the lead on these investigations, the secret service working in concert with the fbi and capitol hill police, but at this hour, it does appear they are livened. >> kristin, thank you, we'll bring you jay carney's remarks live when he takes the podium. michael, the first i want to ask is the anthrax letters that happened in the wake of 9/11, that was sort of unrelated -- that of course was unrelated to the 'tacks, but a way of stoking the fear and using the opportunity to create even more havoc, i think, in terms of the sense of national security. what do you make of this? >> first, i would stress the initial reports from the field are often inaccurate. so they have gotten positive tesss on these from normal field testing. it will take about 24 to 48 hours for the fbi to do the
laboratory tests to know if this is actual ricin. that's piece one. piece two is, you're absolutely right. this combined with the attack in boston can shake people's faith system and its security. in this case, the system is working pretty well. none of these letters are getting to their intended targets, being screened effectively, much like the response we saw in boston, we're seeing some of the systems we put in place post-9/11 work. now it may be too late to save everyone, but it is providing a effective defense. >> in terms of the sophistication to carry out a mail attack, if you will, honestly the details around the anthrax attack are still very much -- we don't have clarity even a decade later. >> still in dispute. >> it takes a fair amount of sophistication and access to material to be able to even care something like this out. >> and anthrax is harder than ricin. anthrax to tell le weaponize it,
grind it up, getting it to a place where it's effective is a bit more different than risen. ricin extracted from castor beans, this is not particularly sophisticated, but it is effective. it has to be ingested or inhaled, about you it requires somebody to at least give it some thought to sit down and produce it. >> luke, you are obviously here and not on capitol hill, but in terms of the reaction we're seeing from congress, the fact -- look, there's still legislation that they're debating at the capitol hill and it's on high alert. the question is how much it affects the proceedings. and there's a lot on the agenda right now. >> i think the mind-set of we won't let this slow us done will per raid. i think because it comes so close to the boston attacks we're sort of hyper-ving listen, this sort of terre america that everything is going up around us, but if you work on capitol
hill, you very much accept. none of the mail sent to the capitol actually goes to the capitol. it goes through a screening process. none of the mail here doesn't directly go to us. it goes through a screening process. so i don't think something like this will trip up the united states capitol. there are people who are resilient. it's one of those things when you walk through the doors every day, you accept it's probably one of the most dangerous buildings in the world to work in every day. >> i want to talk about resilience. it seems to be one of the morse powerful effects of this coming out of the terror attacks. to discuss that, i want to bring if lawrence o'donnell, who is live in boston, host of msnbc's "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." thanks for joining us. you are a son of boston. you've talked with community members, family members affected. what is the mood on the ground in boston? >> there's a mourning going on here, alex.
we're dealing with deaths, we're dealing with grievous injuries, and the emotion although flow that i've been in since i've been here, and before i got here is really sadness. there's the shock of what has happened, is still being processed. we haven't gotten to the actual formal wake and funeral stage yet here, in a normal death situation. that would already be going on. and so there's a big pause here. and a real -- just a real sadness is the feeling that you're in all the time here. >> you know, lawrence, after 9/11, i remember how new yorkers kind of came together, and there was this sense of a building of a collective metropolitan identity. what new york stood for, who new yorkers were, the fabric that connected us all together.
we've seen a little bit of that, a little bit of where ig about that. i want to read an excerpt today from the great writer dennis le hain, who writes this morning bostonance don't love easy things. they loved blizzards, the bleachers in fenway park, a good brawl over a contested parking space. two different friends texted me the identical message yesterday. they messed with the wrong city. this wasn't a macho statement. no. what a bostonian nines when he or she says they messed with the wrong city means you don't think this changes anything, do you? there is that question of whether or not this ultimately sets boston back or whether the city rebuilds itself with the longer-lasting effects of a tragedy like this on a city. >> this city will recover and it would recover emotionally. this city knows that and has processes for that. so there's no question about
that i can't answer that there will be any changes here. we know that the marathon route won't change. we know the runners will still come down over my shoulder here on boylston street to the very same finish line, but none of us will never walk that block again or be on this street without thinking of what happened on april 15th. >> bob, i want to talk about the notion of an open society and trust, because that's often the thing that falls by the way side thomas friedman says, while we're at it, let's schedule another boston marathon as soon as possible. cave dwelling is for terrorists. americans we run on the streets. in shorts, not armor, with abandon, and never fear. eyes always on the prize, never on all those suspicious bundles on the curb. in today's world, sometimes we pay for the quinch essentially
american naivete, that the benefits of win living in an open society always outweigh the costs. >> lawrence is right, boston will recover, but look at new york city after september 11th. it's vibrant and as wonderful a city as it always was. these are terrible traumas, but the terrorists have never succeeded in making us give up our freedom, and turning us away from the concept of a free society. the ones who really suffer are the ones who are wounded, the families of those who are killed, because their lives in some sense will never be the same. the trauma stays with them, you know, it recedes somewhat, but cities, communities and society, we are resilient, and we do recover. >> the other thing about this tragedy in particular, michael, is how much law enforcement officials are calling on the public to help them solve this. whether that's through tips,
whether that's through conversations they may have had with a friend or neighbor, perhaps will end up being a suspect, whether that's soliciting footage and still photography. it does take a village, as it were to get this sort of investigative process under way. >> i think that's a great point. it is including everyone in the solution, not just the public looking to the police and say oh, please protect us. it's understanding awareness before the fact and assistance after the fact is what produces a strong society. that resilience we're seeing in boston, which i think obviously we would see in any city, the special accent in boston, did you -- >> don't tell lawrencivities it's incredibly important. i think we would see that anywhere. the question for me is, if in a week or so people don't see results, they don't see someone in jail, they don't know who did this, which is possible, because these investigations are really hard, having done them. the question is are we politically resilient? do we give the professionals
times to do this? or do we start saying look how broken things are? >> yeah, lawrence, michael makes a fair point which is we're in the early stages of this, obviously. as you said there's a pause, but at some point people are going to need and want answers in order to deal with the grief. the question is, what does that window look like? of course if and when there is a suspect, to what degree does that erode trust, to what degree does that engender finger pointing? are we strong enough to withstand the other, if you will? >> i think the way the evidence has unfolded already has been, in small ways gratifying. discovering the pressure cookers and the pace of that. there's been new information every six or eight hours in this, and it feels like it's going somewhere. they're still in investigative motor. i was just up there. the dogs are sniffing every inch
of the street, so that process of evidence collection and evidence revelation here i think has been very helpful, but you know, alex, i was out there last night at gavy park where martin richard learned to play baseball, the same place i learned to play baseball, across the street from the church where he got his first communion. that was not combative. that crowd was all about love. it's the only time i've seen a collection of people like that in boston, in particular in do recall chester, where no politician spoke. it was just a catholic priest speaking about love and grace, and everyone was just holding their children closer. >> you know, lawrence, i will say i could imagine what it is like to walk in the footsteps of an 8-year-old just learning how to throw a bhabl and going to church, a son of boston, who did some of the very same things and places. the emotional impact of that i don't think can be overstated.
thank you for joining us today, and thanks for your great reporting from up there. >> thanks, alex. press secretary jay carney will be taking the podium in a few minutes. we are following that live. again, there have been suspicious packages that have been mailed to congress and apparently to the white house. let es hear now from kristin welker who is live in front of the white house. we just got a bit of an update from you before. in terms of the white house and how disruptive this has been to the president's day, the president's calendar, yesterday he basically resumed activities as scheduled. to what degree in this throwing things into disarray at 1600 pennsylvania avenue? >> reporter: of course it is to some extent. remember he had a trip scheduled for friday to kansas. that has been canceled. now he's going to boston instead. there is some concern about potentially the immigration legislation being slowed down by this, but the president did sort
of resume a lot of his schedule yesterday, in part to send a message to the people responsible for the bombings in boston, that the united states will continue, will move on. he made that point quite strongly, but behind the scenes, there is a lot of concern and consternation, because they don't know at this hour who is responsible for the bombings in boston. and now you have this new element, this added element, this suspicious letter that was sent to president obama. again, we do not think there is a link between the two. still having said that. washington, d.c. is on heightened alert. secret service investigators are now working with the fbi, with capitol hill police to get to the bottom of who sent the suspicious letter to the white house. of course there are two other letters that we're discussing that were sent to capitol hill. so there's certainly a heightened level of concern here. ever since monday pennsylvania avenue outside of the white house has been closed off to foot traffic. >> i'm going to have to
interrupt you, because jay carney is taking the podium. >> reporter: absolutely. >> thank you for being here today. i know there are several matters that i'm sure you'll be interested in discussing today. a couple issues under investigation by the fbi. i thought i would start with that, and then take your questions. as you saw from a statement from the fbi as well as a statement from the united states secret service, there was a letter sent to -- addressed to the president at an off-site mail facility. it was noticed to have contained a suspicious substance and tests were under taken. the fbi has the lead in that investigation, of course, and has said in its statement they will be conducting further tests to determine what the nature of the substance is. of course, there was another letter, as you know, sent or detected by capitol police that was sent to a united states
senator. that also is the subject of the investigation by the fbi. and for more information about these matters, i refer you to the fbi. the president i'm sure you'll ask this, the president of course has been briefed on these letters. he was briefed last night and against this morning. secondly, there is obviously a lot of interest in the explosions in boston, and i wanted to make clear, as you heard from the president yesterday, that our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and to their families who were injured. those who were injured as well as killed in this heinous and cowardly act. the full weight of the federal government is behind this investigation, which is being led by the fbi, and as the president said, we will find out who did this, we will find out why, and we will bring those responsible to justice. that said, it is very important that we allow this investigation to run its full course and to ensure that we retain the
integrity of that investigation. therefore, on matters related to the investigation, i would direct you to the fbi. as you know, the fbi is giving the press briefings on the ground in boston, and i believe they will be holding another briefing today. the president, as you know, has been briefed regularly on the incident in boston. beginning almost immediately after it took place. this morning against the president convened a meeting in the oval office with his national security team on the ongoing investigation. partsing in that briefing was the attorney general eric holder, the fbi director rob mueller, chief of staff denis mcdonough, tom done lynn. his homeland security adviser and counter terrorism adviser lisa monaco. tony blank and white house counsel kathy rum her, elisa
master-mona master-monaco. ben rhodes, and the vice president's national security adviser jay sullivan. as you know, tomorrow morning the president will travel to boston to speak as an interfaith service dedicated to those gravely wounded or killed in monday's bombing. i have a scheduling update for you on that. the first lady will be joining the president on the trip to boston. with that, i'll take your questions. >> reporter: already the public is already nervous in the situation in boston. has the fbi told the white house anything about whether the letters received are related to the boston -- >> i would point you to the statement that the fbi put out. it is my understanding that they have not made that connection, but i would refer you to that. >> reporter: do you know if they're not making that connection or ruled it out? >> i would refer you to the fbi. >> reporter: so there's nothing you can tell to the public to reassure them -- >> for a long time there have been long-established procedures and protocols.
anytime a suspicious powder is located in a mail facility, it is tested. i would underscore the mail sent here is screened and these tests are taken at remote sites to mitigate the risks. the fbi has a lead for determining whether a suspicious powder is a dangerous substance, such as ricin. those take place at accredited facilities and they take a certain amount of time, as the fbi has indicated. these procedures are in place, the procedures are effective, and in operation now, and we are in the midst of that process that the fbi is undertaken at the time. >> reporter: but again there's nothing you can say about whether there's any connection between the letters and the boston incident? >> i would point you to the fbi, which has the lead investigation, the lead in the investigation into each matter, and what they have said about this and their assessments on any connection between these two
matters. >> reporter: i imagine you'll probably point me to the fbi on this as well, but i'll ask. is there any indication on the boston explosions on whether this looks to be a foreign terrorist incident or domestic? >> what the president said yesterday remains true today -- which is that there's an active investigation ongoing. we have the full weight of the federal government behind this investigation being led by the fbi, all components are assisting, including the intelligence community and others, assisting state and local authorities and the fbi in this investigation. as the president said, we do not know at this time yet whether it was an organization or an individual, foreign or domestic, but we will find out, and we will hold accountable and bring to justice whoever is responsible, but this
investigation is not not even 48 hours old, and it is important that we maintain the integrity of the investigation. it is important as both state and local law enforcement officials and government officials as well as federal officials have made clear, that the american people provide whatever information they might have that could be of assistance in this investigation. there's an 800 number. 1-800-call-fbi, which has been put out to provide a method for individuals who might have information to contact law enforcement on this matter. that is absolutely the responsible thing to do, but the details of the progress of the investigation, assessments about preliminary assessments about who may be responsible, i will not make, and i think that as a
matter of upholding the integrity of the investigation, others will not as well. yes? >> reporter: jay, there's still police tape around pennsylvania avenue around the white house. is that a temporary measure? have there been any other threats to the white house? emplgts i'm not aware of any. i think the secret service through normal procedures and through an abundance of caution certain actions are taken, but i would refer you to them for details about the perimeter. is the president -- >> i wouldn't say one way or the other, because i think it's important to allow the investigators to do their work. he is being breed on this regularly. lisa monaco, his adviser, is
updating him, and updating him through the evening, but i wouldn't characterize his view of the investigators because that would then characterize the investigation. >> reporter: what would be his message tomorrow? >> it would be one of resolve, of the commonalty we feel as americans with the people of boston and the people visiting boston for the marathon, and both endured this horrific event and demonstrated their bravery in its immediate aftermath. i mean, i would obviously asking you to wait to hear his remarks. as you heard him say yesterday from this podium, the way that the people of boston, the city
of boston responded reminds us and reminds the world of just who we are as a people. >> reporter: last question -- how did he react to the briefings about the letters that were addressed to him? >> the president was briefed on these matters. i don't have a way to characterize his reaction. obviously he understands, and we all understand there are procedures in place. as the fbi has said there's a process in place that ensures that the materials that are suspicious or substances found to be suspicious at remote locations are then sent for secondary and more intense testing, and that process is under way now. yes? >> reporter: jay, following on julie's question. that was press secretary jay carney confirming that indeed a suspicious package was sent to the white house. he would not confirm the nature of the substance and said that law enforcement officials are
determining exactly the substance, and has ponted reporters to an fbi investigation on the matter. not linking at this point the suspicious packages sent to congress and to the white house to the bombings in boston. for more, let's go to kelly o'donnell nbc news capitol hill correspondent. kelly, as jay carney was speaking we got a update that carl levin also received a suspicious package in his regional office in michigan. this certainly must have capitol hill on high alert, to say the least? >> reporter: what it points to is the level of scrutiny people are giving to anything that looks slightly out of the ordinary, which is what official have told the public to do. you have a senior united states senator putting out an official release, to say at his saginaw, michigan, office the staffer believed the letter appeared suspicious, it was not opened. the protocols set in places for congressionally offices were followed. so levin is making this news
public. he said he is grateful for the authorities who are handling this and responding. what it does is that it puts another piece into what has been a complicated day. with two senate office buildings, there have been police activity where we see a suspicious letter, suspicious package being dealt with by authorities here. now, again, that is part of what is a sort of routine response when there's anything that seems out of splay place, so we don't want to raise alarm out of anything that's prupt, but because of the letter to roger wicker, the republican of mississippi in preliminary tests proves ricin, more tests being done. the letter at the white house that's being discussed. everyone is on a higher state of alert. what we have here are hallways and areas that normally connect the complex, the capitol, being blocked. there is still the business of the senate going on. they're having the guns debate on the floor. there are tourists visiting in
parts of the complex, but there is a heightened state of alert. senator levin is telling us about what happened in a michigan office, not here at the capitol. at we've been discussing, all mail to the senate is on hold here to the capitol. as we pointed out it's always screened off-site. that's been a precaution for the last ten years plus. the news, karl levin said his office received something suspicious, and all of this is unfolding in what has been a very hectic, chaotic day on capitol hill. >> nbc news kelly o'donnell, thank you for the update. . pikal, you know we were talking about this a bit, but the fact the senate is still engaging in the business of the senate, the fact this is happening and still it's a testament to, i think, the security measures that have been put in place, and also the sense that everyone needs to keep calm, carry on with one's business, that the u.s. congress, the u.s. government is
not going to be sidelined by terrorist or attempted terrorist activities. it's a real testament to the security structure and sort of the mental that is present in legislating these days. >> i think it is. though the tragedy is new tos in my ways, the establishment are used to this after 12 years post-9/11. i will note one of the things that happened, as kelly said, as these things pop up, everything becomes suspicious. this is sort of your mini-nightmare when you're in a nationality security establishment. you're looking at really serious things, something else pops up, and it might be absolute garbage, but you have to spend time, resources on it, and then get back to the real things to handle. >> and of course the fbi is leading the investigation, there's a lot of work on the fbi's plate to say the least. joining us is senior executive producer for the investigative unit, richard
esposito. i want to focus on the bombs and the intelligence that we now have on details around the bombs, which seemed to be some sort of improvised explosive device that was used in boston, and the materials used are incredibly commonplace, it seems. pressure cookers, basic circuitry, the problem there, of course, is that commonplace objects, harder to track, and also i think do sort of effectively strike fear in the hearts of americans, because they are so ordinary. if anybody can do this, who's to say somebody won't. tell under the circumstances more about the materials. >> the whole object of the bombing is to caught fear. and one of the arts to making a bomb is get the simplest bomb you can. so a pressure cooker, explosives that can be bought without regulation, circuit board from a model car, from a phone, from a computer, and a few c batteries. there you go. you've got a bomb.
a bomb is a crude device. it just explodes, it goes in all the directions. bbs, nails, fragments, the sophisticated part is why they put it there, how they put it there, and how they made it go off. >> right, the actual trigger mechanism seems to be the most sophisticated thing. the other piece is the simplicity doesn't mean that it was made by an amateur. a simple bomb design could comply the maker was an amateur veteran investigators and foreign experts and forensics expert said, but they also said it could be the work of a sophisticated bomb maker taking great care to cover his tracks. >> or a sophisticated bomb maker who knows the simpler the bomb the better your chance of success. that's what a sophisticated bomb maker does. use the materials at hand in the country, in the region, make a device that works.
that's what their goal is. >> there is also the issue, michael, of tracking any of this. because the materials were so commonplace. the "new york times" talks about the pressure cooker itself. one brand with 6l on the bottom is made by the spanish company fagor, which according to the -- with factories in six countries including spain, china and morocco and subsidiaries in nearly a dozen more. it sells about 50,000 of the 6-liter pots in the u.s. every year. >> it's going to be hard, but this is exactly what the fbi and atf unit of the doj does. there are different pieces of this. so the ball bearing, that might be very, very hard, but you never know about that circuit board, where it came from. without exposing how they do this, our government is actually pretty good forensically at tracking these things down.
again, they're going to use it and match it up with everything else they have. the video, the photographs, the other intelligence, and it's those different pieces coming together which i hope, and i they we all hope will lead to that break. >> when you hear the word "ied" most americans associate that with the wars in the middle east. in 2012, 104 people were killed from ieds in afghanistan, 1,744 were wounded the year before, 196 were killed, 3,542 wounded. i mean, these are staggering in terms of being the weapons of choice for creating mayhem and maiming people and of course killing some. it's a stark reminder of the toll of war, the nature of the violence in boston is an echo of what has happened to american service members overseas, so civilians both iraqi and afghanistan civilians who have been in the line of fire, as it
were. >> i've covered so many of the victims of these ieds from the two wars, and the scene in boston was just like that. when you read the accounts of the doctors and surgeons, for example, they're applying the techniques learned in the war zones to these victims, which is one of the reasons why something as simple as a tourniquet suddenly becomes so important, because they often bleed out from these lower extremity issues. >> in terms of the tourniquet we've heard of stories of people's lives being saved. >> absolutely. >> because emergency medical personnel were on hand. >> they were well trained, they moved fast and were able to apply the pressure and stop the bleeding. it's a horrific scene, and yet they stopped the bleeding and saved most of the lives. >> not only did they stop the bleeding, but they ran to the scene, right? that's the critical piece here. when you explosives went off.
when you see that plume of smoeb, the video for theage shows people, americans, different nationalities action going to the site to help those wounded. that is the most moving part about that very, very different sort of carnage. >> we often talk about it daily, how divided this country is. we talk on this network and many other networks talk about it. but when you see this, all the political divisions go away, the racial division go away. everybody in that exact moment is unified. it is the beauty of this nation. when things like that strike, we run forward. i spent a lot of time in boston. i went to school there. the one word that always comes to my mind is "loyalty." it is one of the most loyal towns. it's a very tough town. if you're an outsider, they don't automatically accept you right away, but once they bring you in the fold, they are so
darn loyal, you don't know what to do with yourself. there are so many bar fights in boston, they just jump into it when they see a friend in an altercation. that's what you saw in the marathon. folks running out of a blind loyalty to help out. it's something beautiful to see. for someone who group up in a transplant area, we don't have that type of royalty. >> i grew up in the same town. i think you get honorary bostonite status, because of the years you logged in there. it is still unclear whether the attack was planned on u.s. soil or overseas, but new data makes one thing very evident. a culture of violence and extremism is on the rise. we will talk with mark potauk. that's coming up next on "now." ♪
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meanwhile, the investigation has offered few clues whether the attack was a work of a foreign or domestic network, but the mere fact that both are being treated with an amount this graph, part of the report last monday shows the dramatic increase in conspiracy-minded antigovernment quote/unquote patriot groups in the last four years. after a spike in the early '90s, the number started to rise against in 2003. joins us now is mark potok, with a group that tracks extremism. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> i want to be clear, we of course do not know whether or not this attack was from a domestic group or foreign group. one thing is very clear. the culture of extremism is on the rise, both internationally
and nationally. i think those numbers -- the statistics that you guys are putting out at the southern poverty law center are staggering. what do you ascribe to that? why the dramatic up tick in the extremist groups in the united states? >> the jump begins right in early 2009 and it's dramatic. we bent -- to 130060 in four years. so that, i think obviously is tied to the election of barack obama. of course, that's what immediately precedes this rise. i think the main driver of this growth is the election of our first black president, and more importantly, what that election represents. the changing racial demographics of the united states, the ideas as the census bureau has predicted, that whites will lose their majority by about 2043. of course at the very same time, in the fall of 2008 action we
saw the collapse of the economy beginning, of course, with the subprime crisis, so that really added fuel to the fire, made people angry, afraid, concerned, feeling like the country they lived in was not the country they grew up in, and so on. i think those are the two main things. the debate that began about gun control i think clearly has raised the temperature even more. sirchlts we just spent the last half hour talking about the fabric of american society being woven even tighter in times of tragedy, but can't forget about the fact that there are certain pockets about deep dissatisfaction. >> we're on two tracks in this country. if you go back to when i was a
kid or a young man, we're in a much better place now racially than we were back then. on the other hand you have a proliferation of these groups. because of the changing demographics, and that sort of thing. one of the things i'm curious about, though, is why this does not get more coverage in the media. i think this is an important trend in the society, very significant, mark's group monitors this stuff heavily, but does not get a lot of traction in the mainstream media. >> this goes to questions of free speech. the west borrow bapt it's church is vilified, but in 2011, the supreme court ruled in favor of the west borrow baptist church and their right to protest military funerals. it's a tricky equation where
hate and extremism intersect. >> as a practical reality free speech protects most hate and extremism. you absolutely in this country can stand in a podium in front of 1,000 people and say what will make our country is to kill all the jews, for instance many think of the americans as quite insane to regulate this, but it's such an entrenched value that it's not about to change. when we criticize these groups and so on, we're very careful to not say, you know. not in any sense advocate the banning of their speech. i think you have to confront their ideas, you've got to confront what's really driving them, and try to talk about those issues. >> mark, when you guys sort
of -- just for our viewers out there, how do you classify a group as being a hateful or extremist group? what are the metrics? >> strictly placed on ideology, not any kind of measure of criminal activity or violence or some kind of estimate we're making for the potential for violence. if a group says that an entire group of human beings, based generally on their class kavgt sticks are somehow less, somehow evil, that makes them a hate group. so, you know, if you say all white people are evil, or the black people or the jews and such, that is in effect what makes you a hate group in our estimation. >> mark, a very, very important reminder, that a lot of the hatefulness and extremism is combatted not by shutting it down, but actually by opening up the dialogue. that's one piece of the puzzle we often miss. it's fosters greater relations and speaking to one another for
combatting many of the ills that plague the society. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> michael leiter, thank you for your time and expertise. i'm sure we'll come back for more. thanks for your time. richard esposito, thank you as well. it is a fluid situation, your information and expertise will be needed. coming up, the events in boston seem to bring members of congress together this week, but now it appears that bipartisan unity is already fraying. we'll discuss the narrowing window for gun safety reform. that's next. we've reduced taxes and lowered costs to save businesses more than two billion dollars to grow jobs, cut middle class income taxes to the lowest rate in sixty years, and we're creating tax free zones for business startups. the new new york is working creating tens of thousands of new businesses, and we're just getting started. to grow or start your business visit thenewny.com
out the immigration bill, but reply cass divisions on capitol hill remain stark. gun safety advocates are now in a disparate scramible. this morning senator joe manchin, the amendment's co-sponsor told nbc news, quote, we will not get the votes today. and by the looks of it, he is krerkt. earlier this hour heidi hidecamp joined the growing numbers of senators opposing the proposal. -- with their conservative base. both flake and rubio are members of the gang of eight. they introduced their bill this morning providing a pathway. president obama announced his support for both the immigration bill and background checks proposal. it is now up to congress to
reach the final deal. luke, i know you're not in the halls of congress right now, it seems like a fluid situation. this news that -- it seems with every passing minute/hour, the manchin/toomey proposal seems less and less possible. >> it's more likely going down. here's why. ed a lot of these senators who voted for cloture now jumping off the ship. some are saying it's not worth it going against the second amendment special interests, because why? not because perhaps they don't believe in it, because there's absolutely no way this would get through the hospitals. two reasons why. the only way this could get through the house was for it to get 80 votes, something to put so much pressure that they had to move something. if it even squeaks and gets 60, boehner will submit it to the house judiciary, one of the most conservative committees, they'll water it down, make their own
bill, and it won't have nearly the teeth that the manchin/toomey compromise has, and a lot of liberals say there's no teeth in that, either. >> couldn't you argue it could have gotten 68? >> i don't know why republican senators would expos their flank when they knew it was going to die in the house. very similar to when nancy pelosi put forward the climate change legislation in 2009, got it through the house, a lot of vulnerable democrats have to vote on it, it i daoed in the senate. they did that and the the health care vote. why am i going to risk nigh flank on this? >> well, bay maybe, bob, it's a mosh decision as harry reid said. maybe there would be repercussions. >> it may by a moral issue, but that cuts no clout -- >> on capitol hill? >> in this congress. it cuts no ice in this congress. i think it's time for the american public, people who care
about gun violence in this country to understand that congress is not in the foreseeable future going to do anything significant about gun violence, so you really need a movement outside of the has of congress to build so much prish that they have no choice but respond. that is the only way it's going to happen. >> i think you're right on the, chris cillizza and in the post wrote -- how politicians react to them. on guns, the passion is strongly on the side of those who want to keep any new gun laws off the books. as proof of that, one in five gun owners say they have called or written, just one of ten in those without a gun say they did the same. you tack about activism it sees disproportionate. >> you need leadership to build that outside activism. >> you remember the event with rosie o'donnell with the million
mom march, that's the type of thing that needs to happen. the most effective lobbying that was done was done by the newtown families. i saw the way they brought that dignified purpose to capitol hill had a real effect. it made joe manchin cry. that's the only way to do it, and a ton of money from michael bloom better. if you don't no one will risk primary voters on the republican side. >> do you thinks this issed end? do you think this makes the advocates in favor of gun safety reform sort of circle the wagons and say what did we do wrong? and how do we do it right? >> to be honest, this is something the republicans didn't want to touch at all. we asked among journalists had newtown happened before the election, would they have touched it? we can't answer that. we don't know. i believe this will shelf it for the foreseeable future unless it
comes to play in the 2014 mid terms, but the way in which the districts are drawn, where is it an issue? maybe a few of the republicans and a few suburban soccer moms, but other than that we're -- >> kellie ayotte is not -- i mean, she works in cahoots with lindsey graham and john mccain. you're talking about more moderate republicans, maybe they will face blowback for not having gone maybe the way of sort of the moral choice. >> the problem is, even if you succeed in congress with some kind of legislation, you still will not get enough to do much about gun violence, as important as background checks are, that is not going to significantly bring down the level of gun violence in this country. >> the fight lives another day. thanks to luke russert and bob. i'll see you back here tomorrow. "andrea mitchell reports" is next.
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